This week we visited Myisha Battle in her San Francisco home to discuss her new book, This is Supposed to be Fun: How to Find Joy in Hooking Up, Settling Down, and Everything in Between.
We talked about how she came to write this book and some of the juicy and more practical topics it covers; From how to get the most out of the apps, to the positive effects of the pandemic on dating, and how you don't actually have to love yourself to love someone else.
She made me an expert cup of tea as we caught up on her recent journey.
As I sit here now, making this post, I realize I have SO many more questions for Myisha about dating! Specifically, is dating especially hard here in San Francisco?? Sure seems like it. I want an expert opinion. Luckily, Myisha will be joining us next week for an in person reading and Q+A session. You can RSVP here .
Where are you from and how did you end up in San Francisco?
I was born in Oakland, but my family relocated to Louisiana when I was about three years old. I came back to the Bay Area when I was 17 to go to SFSU. After college I moved to New York and was there for about nine years before moving back in 2014. So this is actually the third time I’ve lived in the Bay Area.
How did you decide to return to SF?
I had finished up my masters in psychology at The New School for Social Research, and was thinking about where I could start a sex coaching practice. San Francisco is such a historically open and sexually radical part of the country, and I had connections here still, including family. I was in my early 30s and thinking more about where I’d like to be long-term and NYC wasn’t it.
What led you to focus your career on sexual health?
I’ve always been fascinated by human sexuality, which is why it’s been a focus of my studies for so long. And it’s never made sense to me why so much sexual education is hidden from us. It just seems unfair that such a crucial part of our lives be shrouded in mystery. But then as I learned more, I began to see that the problem is systemic, and that even sexual research is limited. I have a lot of Scorpio in my chart, specifically in the houses of work and career, so I think I was meant to do something that unearthed some of the gnarly bits of life.
When did you start preparing for your book and how did you decide it was time to write it?
In some ways, I think I’ve been preparing to write this book my whole life. Meaning, I’ve always been a good writer, and really connect to writing as a practice of expression and meaning-making. After a few years of being a sex and dating coach, I noticed how much of a need there was for some sort of guidance through the wild world of modern dating. So the idea of writing this book came about around 2018, as a way to expand how many people I could help, and share the tools I was using with my clients on a larger scale.
Who are some writers, thinkers, artists, activists, etc. that have influenced your book?
Practically speaking, Esther Perel and Emily Nagoski were influential in my writing this book specifically because they focus on demystifying aspects of sexuality and partnership. I recommend their books all the time, and I hope that I join their ranks in terms of making books about sex more accessible. I’m also theoretically influenced by bell hooks, Judith Butler, James Baldwin, and other feminist and social constructionist theorists. And from a technical standpoint, I was reading a lot of Rachel Cusk prior to, and during the writing of the book. I can only hope that a shred of her brilliance rubbed off on my prose.
Would you say your book focuses more on the search or how to maintain a relationship?
The book focuses primarily on how to understand your own desires, place those in the context of a dating app profile, and develop relationships that you feel are aligned with those desires. The final chapter of the book is about deepening relationships and assessing your relationship goals. This was intentional, as I hope that my second book will be about managing and maintaining sexual relationships long-term.
What do you think should be the goal of dating? Partnership? Fun? Fulfillment?
I think every person has their own goals for dating and as a coach it’s my job to help them figure out what those might be. I know that my dating life took a turn when I was more focused on the qualitative aspects of dating. I wanted to have fun, to share time with people that I felt were really interesting, thought-provoking people, and to have really good sex! That worked for me, but might not work for everyone.
Does your book address how the pandemic has affected the way we date?
Yes! In fact, I think the pandemic has changed how we date in some very important ways. I think people are less opposed to talking about their comfort and boundaries on dates because they’ve had to negotiate health risks throughout the pandemic. I also think that COVID dating ushered in new ways to spend time with people, like the video date, which I think can now be a helpful tool for vetting people before you meet them in person.
It seems like most people primarily use dating apps to meet people. Would you say that is true? Do you think that dating is easier or harder in the time of apps?
I think that dating is simultaneously easier and harder in the time of apps. It’s easier to find potentially like-minded people because you’re not limited to just the people who show up at a bar that you like on a Saturday night. But it’s harder for that exact same reason. A lot of my clients struggle to narrow their focus down to people who will actually help them achieve their dating goals. I cover “bigger better deal syndrome” in the book that I think a lot of dater’s struggle with these days. And why wouldn’t they, given the apps create an illusion of unlimited choice?
Does your book provide guidance on how to make these apps work better for you, or do you encourage your readers to explore alternative ways of connecting with people?
The book is really set up to help folks see apps as tools and to create structures that help them feel more in control of those tools. So many of my clients feel that the apps run their life, and I wanted to offer a way for people to feel like they’re in charge. I’m also aware that there are folks who would prefer to not engage with the apps, and I think there are tons of exercises in the book that can help regardless of whether you’re app dating or strictly meeting people IRL.
Doesn't success in dating or partnership ultimately come from success in self love and understanding? How much work should a person do on themselves before putting work into dating?
I think that everyone is in a process of understanding themselves and loving themselves, and I think it’s a lot to ask to be 100% confident in who you are before you start dating. This might be controversial, but I don’t think you have to love yourself in order to love someone else. In fact, I think it’s through relationships that we understand what love is, how we want to be loved, and how we want to give love. Something else that might seem controversial is that I think we can learn all of this through a spectrum of relationships that range from casual to long-term. I actually try to move people away from this idea that they have to be successful in love, because love is indifferent to success or failure. It’s a force that can be cultivated whether you’re single, dating, partnered, poly or nonmonogamous and we are sometimes more tapped into that force than other times.
About Myisha Battle
Myisha Battle is a certified clinical sexologist and sex and dating coach, educator, and speaker. Her expertise has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Magazine’s The Cut, Refinery29, Oprah Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Playboy, Nylon, and many other outlets. She lives in San Francisco, California.
Read more about Myisha's work here
About This is Supposed to Be Fun
Swipe. Match. Get ghosted. Repeat. Modern dating can quickly start to feel like an overwhelming slog. It’s easy to forget the point of it all: this is supposed to be fun. Enter professional sex and dating coach Myisha Battle. Drawing on an engaging and diverse collection of client stories, This Is Supposed to Be Fun is a uniquely inclusive, sex-positive guide to help you skip past the games and get what you really want out of dating and relationships—no matter what that may be. Whether you’re trying to create the perfectly imperfect dating profile, stay true to your authentic self on dates, match with people interested in kink, or break up with compassion, Battle’s friendly, proven advice is indispensable. This Is Supposed to Be Fun will help make the world of dating and relationships more enjoyable (and bearable!) for everyone.